What are the reoccurring budget items for my AED program?

December 22, 2010

There are 5 potential budget items that affect your AED program.  Note that any non-compliance, where necessary, leads to a break down in your AED program and does open you to potential for legalities.  Once you have an AED program, remember to budget for these items where applicable!

1)       Electrode Pads – The majority of the AED models on the market have a 2 year electrode pad life.  The date of the expiration is clearly marked on the pad package, an example is shown on this posting for the Philips FRx Rugged AED.  Some AED models do have 3.5 yr expiry dates up to 5 yr expiry dates, however. Dates vary due to packaging mechanisms but be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines and expiration dates provided.  The electrode pads will dry out and prevent proper AED functioning/use if they are not replaced as needed.  Pads range in price from $35-$120, depending on make and model owned.

2)       Batteries – The majority of the AED models on the market have a 3-5 year warranty and lifespan.  The date of the expiration is also clearly marked on the battery.  Various models will warranty the devices for xx years AFTER initial install so be sure to clearly mark your records on WHEN you install the battery for these models.  Also, the HeartSine Samaritan and Physio Conrol / Medtronic CR Plus Lifepak or Lifepak Express models have a combo pack you purchase with battery/pads being replaced simultaneously.  Defibtech / Cintas does sell a model that has a suggested annual replacement of an off-shelf 9V battery (this ensures their AED performs proper self-testing).  AED batteries range in price from $75-$400, depending on make and model owned.

3)       Training – AED acquirer state laws many times dictate that you have to ensure expected users are trained in American Heart or Red Cross or equal CPR & AED certified courses (American Safety & Health Institute, Medic First, Health & Safety Institute, Emergency Care & Safety Institute, American Health Association, etc).  These certifications range depending on which training org you use but every 1-2 years the certification expires and needs to be renewed.  Courses can be obtained locally at Red Cross locations or through the American Heart Association network but also there are over 100,000 instructor throughout the US alone and there are local training centers that can provide a competitive price for CPR & AED, First Aid, and Bloodborne Pathogen or Universal Precautions plus other more advanced or supplemental add-on training classes.  Various online solutions are also available.  Think Safe has a listing of US training centers and online solutions; contact us at or info@think-safe.com if you would like to contact a local trainer in your area.

4)       Program Manager Software / Database – AED acquirer state laws many times also dictate that the AED has to be maintained to manufacturer and industry standards.  This standard generally a 30 day check.  Many companies have their own database solution for ensuring equipment is checked regularly and records of these checks are kept on file (big companies).  If you do not, there are online solutions that are inexpensive but key in helping to not only auto-notify your AEDs are checked to standards but also the log and records of all AEDs are filed and backed up regularly for legal protection.  A nice comprehensive  UNLIMITED user solution at $25-$50/location (customer) can be seen here, showing it’s full capabilities:  http://www.firstvoice.us/FirstVoiceAEDManagerVideo/tabid/751/Default.aspx

5)       Medical Oversight – AED acquirer state laws in approximately 20 states requires a licensed physician or “certified healthcare provider” to oversee the AED program.  This is NOT an Rx!  Proper Medical Oversight includes sign-off by the appropriate license owner referred to in that state law on:  AED/CPR training of the organization (who is trained, how often, what they are trained on); AED placement and markings; AED communication; AED policy; AED maintenance & upkeep procedures.  Contact Think Safe at if you are not sure if your state requires medical oversight.  Medical Oversight costs anywhere from $75/AED to $350/AED or some companies chose to hire medical direction and pay a retainer annually.  Think Safe has a national network of medical directors and can provide a quote for efficient medical oversight for your organization, charging you for locations ONLY where mandates require it. In some cases, we can connect you with a local FREE source for medical oversight.  Call for more details.  AED distributors/dealers are encouraged to call as well.

Think Safe [VIEW OUR BIO] is a certified Women-Owned Business (WBENC) providing first aid & defibrillator expertise to clients since 2004. Known for technical assistance to customers on: [State AED acquirer laws] [AED funding sources and grants] [AED program management solutions] including [Medical Oversight] [& Online AED database / record-keeping compliance software].

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Are the AED pads interchangeable?

January 22, 2010
Medical Examiner, Emergency Physician, former paramedic

Donald J. Linder, DO


Answer: No AED pads are interchangeable between public access defibrillator models. However, there are a few public access AED devices that are high-end brand name devices that allow for adapters and compatibility with EMS models for Zoll, Philips or Medtronic (Physio Control).

Many times EMS agencies/personnel will ask their area businesses considering an AED purchase to consider this feature because they say it saves them time and resources when arriving on the scene.  They can take an already adhered set of pads and then hook them up to their machines and start treatment sooner under their watch.  Of course, I understand why they would want to save time and decrease use of resources.  But, what has to be considered is “WILL EMS ACTUALLY USE THE PADS PUT ON BY A LAY RESCUER?”

As an industry expert, medical director, ER Physician and former paramedic, I can tell you that the vast majority of volunteer and paid EMS/1st responders medical direction personnel have put protocols in place that do not promote this practice, in order to decrease malpractice liability and potential lawsuits.

While some AED reps (only those who have adapters) promote this feature the problem is that litigation fears in the real world makes it very hard to follow through on something that appears to make a ton of sense.

What is a medical director’s opinion on this matter? If the pads are applied incorrectly there is an element of unknown in the treatment of the patient.  Ideally, they will not use the pads placed with the AED but rather will remove those and apply their own set of AED pads that they know are applied correctly. They know have not expired or are not recalled and in fact do work properly, and that they know are OK to use to treat their patient.

With this mindset, the adaptable pads feature appears to be something that is overpriced and not worth the debate which it creates, when the feature is being promoted in the public access defibrillation market where pads are placed by layrescuers and untrained EMS professionals.

Bottom line:  what does the local EMS squad’s medical director have to say on this issue? It is better to let them weigh in and give their opinion as it may save time and resources in the AED selection process for area public access defibrillation programs.
Donald James Linder, D.O.

Medical Director

Linn County Medical Examiner

IA Licensed Physician #02997